I know its been a long time since my last post, but today I finally have something to share. Its nothing profound, but it is what's in my heart today and I need to say it "out loud." Thanks for reading and for praying.
Over the past two weeks, I have been filling in as a Sunday School teacher for our college group at Liberty Heights. This week, we discussed the very familiar passage in John 3 about being "born again" or "born from above." In the words of Jesus: "I tell you the truth, no one can see the Kingdom of God, unless he is born again."
I told the class that the phrase "born again" is often used, but (I think) very little understood. So, I proposed that we discuss two things in this familiar teaching of Jesus: (1) What is the Kingdom of God? (2) What does it mean to be "born again"? After circling the matter many times, this is what I discovered...
For most in the class, being "born again" means "getting saved." And, "getting saved" means "becoming a Christian." And, becoming a Christian means believing in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God, that he died for your sins, and he is the only way to get to heaven.
Then, I asked the question: "OK, if being born again--getting saved--becoming a Christian, gets you into the Kingdom of God, then what does that look like? What will a Christian in the Kingdom of God look like?"
I wrote their answers in green marker on a dry erase board:
- regularly attending church
- knowing and studying the Bible
- using good language (i.e., no cussing)
- not drinking, smoking, or doing drugs
- wearing the right clothes (i.e., modest and clean)
- giving or tithing
- being nice to people
- doing good things for people
When I saw all these things in writing, I remembered something at once very shocking and very sad: these are the sorts of things the Pharisees and religious folks of Israel were doing when they plotted to have Jesus the Lord crucified.
I told the students this and offered them this observation: Is this really what Jesus died for? Is this really what the Kingdom of God is all about? You're telling me the God of the universe became flesh so that we would be good, well-behaved, well-dressed church members? I don't think so.
I think Jesus announced something much bigger and better than this. I think the Apostles preached and lived and died for something much bigger and better than this. I think Christians all over the globe rise every morning praising and exalting God for something bigger and better than this.
If this is what our college students think the Kingdom of God is all about, then no wonder we have struggled to keep the class alive. No wonder our young people are dropping like flies once they leave our campus and set out on their own. I couldn't buy into a Gospel as small and boring and insignificant as that. Why should they?
I know there's more to it. And, hopefully, you know there's more to it. I pray God gives me (us) the wisdom and passion to communicate this to students and the many others who have been lulled into sleep while "doing church" in middle-class America.